Among the countless things made difficult by the pandemic is the act of making music together.
As we’ve discussed here before, pianist Dan Tepfer devised one solution to this problem through technology. Now, having mastered the tricky Jacktrip software, he’s performing with jazz vocal superstar Cécile McLorin Salvant and others.
Back in mid-May, The Checkout demonstrated the power of this new technology — and the challenges in rolling it out to the public. First came an explainer podcast with trombonist Michael Dessen, followed by Live and In Lockdown, a virtual concert hosted by Tepfer, with bassist Jorge Roeder and saxophonists Dayna Stephens and Melissa Aldana. We’re delighted to share a new version of that video.
It’s no small feat, coordinating duo improvisations in real time from different locations around the city. Late into the night before showtime, in the middle of a grueling seven-hour soundcheck, Tepfer — who has a background in physics — deliriously turned to us in Zoom. “Guys, I don’t think you understand how many cables I have running through my apartment right now,” he said. “You know this is like rocket science in here?”
As the webcast went down, some glitches were apparent. We couldn’t resolve the digital noise due to Aldana’s internet connection, as you’ll hear in the final video. But for our podcast cut of the show, we wanted to show off some of Tepfer’s more recent feats — notably with fellow pianist Aaron Diehl, on a joyous Ornette Coleman blues called “The Turnaround.” We also feature a duo with the bassist Paul Sikivie; Tepfer wrote the tune “Resilience” for the occasion.
Recently, Tepfer presented his most anticipated Jacktrip duo to date, with Salvant. Since she and Tepfer both spent considerable time in France, they performed an entire program of French songs.